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Our Landscape Designers are at Your Service

A professional landscape designer will ensure that your garden is not only beautiful but also practical. They've learned through experience what works and what doesn’t. Whether your yard needs seasonal updates or a total renovation, our experienced designers can offer a wide range of ideas while offering the flexibility to create your own unique outdoor space that reflects your needs and your personality.

Our landscape design and Installation team can help you with any project you may have - from curbside appeal to stormwater management to walkways- the possibilities are endless! There’s a reason our landscapes stand out, and we’ve been making them happen for 75 years. Meet the innovative, driven and creative individuals that are part of our landscape design team:

DANIEL VAN DYKE, LANDSCAPE MANAGER & DESIGNER

BACKGROUND: Born and raised in Newport News, Virginia, Daniel studied at both Christopher Newport University and Old Dominion University. He originally started at McDonald Garden Center at the age of 15, unloading Christmas tree trucks. Daniel has worked in all departments of the Garden Center, settling in with Landscape, after he graduated college, as the Installation Manager. Daniel's father, Tom Van Dyke, is the Vice President of Operations for McDonald Garden Center and has been working there for more than 40 years. So technically speaking, Daniel has been with the company for 16 years, but in reality it seems like he has been with the company his entire life!

GARDENING ADVICE:
A Garden has to be specific to the home owner and the property. No one has the same exact taste so every garden has to be unique to an individual. This can reflect in someone’s willingness to work in the garden, the type of environment someone grew up in, or can be as simple as someone’s favorite color. Ultimately, the goal is to create a landscape that reflects a clients unique tastes and specific needs into a cohesive, creative vision.

KELYN HOLCOMB, LANDSCAPE DESIGNER

BACKGROUND:
A native of Chesapeake, Kelyn studied horticulture at Virginia Tech. After graduation, she worked in the horticultural departments at both the Norfolk Botanical Garden and the Virginia Zoo. She also spent time gardening on the big island of Hawaii, maintaining organic gardens and identifying tropical plants. Kelyn gets her hands dirty, continues to learn every day and has never met a plant she doesn’t like.

GARDENING ADVICE:
"Gardens are always evolving, so don’t be afraid to change things up once in a while or find a different way to highlight the beauty of an old favorite, no matter how big or small."

LUKE WHEELER, LANDSCAPE DESIGNER

BACKGROUND:
A native of Hampton, Virginia, Luke began working for McDonald Garden Center in 1998. Luke brings 18 years of experience as the Landscape Foreman, where he acquired a working knowledge of both residential and commercial landscapes. Through his ‘hands-on” work experience, Luke learned the intricacies of design principles and developed a working knowledge of plants, landscape design, and hardscapes. Luke strives to make every project not just a good investment, but a space that will enhance your lifestyle and sense of wellbeing.

GARDENING ADVICE:
Let a garden evolve. A garden does not have to be completed all at once just to squeeze things in. Think in terms of season and scale. Be excited about every aspect of your yard and incorporate things that excite you and make you happy.

JULIA GOFORTH, LANDSCAPE DESIGNER

BACKGROUND:
Julia was born and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and received a Bachelor's degree in Architecture from Virginia Tech. While working toward her design degree, she took several horticultural classes and discovered her passion for plants. While in the Hampton Roads area she has spent time working with garden markets and at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens to further her knowledge. Working to bring her love of design and all things botanical together, she is excited to be creating amazing landscapes.

GARDENING ADVICE:
Be patient and celebrate the growth, no matter how small. One of the most amazing things about landscapes is that they are living things, so try to find beauty in all stages of the process, not just the final result.

To learn more about our landscape design and installation services click here.

Cultivate Time Together – The Modern-Day Victory Garden

The victory gardens movement was born more than 60 years ago during the World War II era when money and supplies were tight and tensions ran high. The United States government formally created a World War II Victory Garden initiative to focus on improving the health of the nation through homegrown produce as a role individual families could play to help the troops abroad. Planting a garden also served as a morale booster for Americans, where gardeners felt empowered by their contribution and involvement.

Fast-forward three decades, and we are now faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shaken our economy and left millions across the country homebound. Today’s modern victory garden provides an opportunity to get outdoors, boost spirits, engage in physical exercise and take a break from the pandemic news feed. Victory gardens — no matter the size — provide a place for the family to be together and work together. Here are some tips on how to get your garden started and what to grow:

Prepare the Soil - Soil is the key and the foundation of any good garden, so once you’ve chosen the types of fruits and veggies you’d like to grow, you’ll need to prepare the soil. If growing in raised beds, we recommend using a raised bed mix like Espoma Raised Bed Mix or for larger applications mix compost, topsoil, peat moss, vermiculite or perlite. Whether you have clay or sandy soil, our Green Team experts can help you to grow better with our complete line of soils and amendments available in both bags and bulk. To view our complete line of soil and amendments click here.

Growing in Containers - If growing in containers, we recommend McDonald Potting Soils, available in both All Purpose or Natural & Organic formulas that are specifically designed for growing in Hampton Roads. Our potting soils are always buy two, get one free, and come in 1 cu ft. bags. When growing in any container, it’s important to use a potting soil (not a planting mix), as other soils will clog the drain holes and prevent water from draining. One great container for growing amazing fruit and veggies is the Earthbox, a growing kit designed by farmers to take the guesswork out of growing edible plants. The Earthbox kit includes everything you need to be successful- simply add soil, plants, water, and sunlight. You can also grow great veggies and herbs in any type of pot, including clay, ceramic or plastic. The best advice here is to make sure to use a professional potting soil like McDonald Potting Soils and use a fertilizer like McDonald Organic Greenleaf or Espoma Garden Tone every 3-4 weeks, since nutrients flush through containers faster than in-ground plantings.

Watering Do's and Don'ts - After the initial planting, it’s important to keep the soil moist. Water two to three days a week for about 15 minutes a day, depending on your plants, your location, and the weather. Remember, overwatering can be just as harmful as leaving plants too dry! To learn more about proper watering practices click here.

Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor - There’s nothing like the taste and crunch of fresh veggies, the flavors of homegrown herbs, or the sweetness of freshly picked berries. So, grab the family and your tools and get digging in the dirt!

Not sure what to grow? You can grow a variety of edibles in Hampton Roads, many of which you can start from seed. We also carry a large variety of edible plants year-round, from herbs and veggies, to all types of berries and fruit trees. Here are some of our favorite edible plants:

Fig Trees – One of the easiest fruit trees to grow, fig trees are virtually pest and disease free and produce reliably year-after-year. Small and easy to pick from, getting approximately 10-15’ high and wide, they produce buckets full of ripe, sweet fruit in late summer through fall. Proven varieties are “Brown Turkey” or “Celeste”.

Persimmon Trees – Very durable and easy to grow fruit tree, persimmons grow well in Hampton Roads with little to no disease or insect issues. The Fuyu and Jiro non-astringent varieties are the best and can be eaten fresh off the tree. If left on the tree, they’ll ripen from a crisp texture to a softer texture. Store them in the fridge for two weeks or freezer for three months. Persimmons are a great source of vitamins A and C and good source of fiber as well, making them an amazingly healthy and tasty snack.

Strawberries – These sweet berries are easy to grow and produce year-after-year. In the ground, they make a great groundcover but can be aggressive and cover a lot of space. Strawberries are also easy to grow in containers.

Lettuce and Spinach –Iin our cooler seasons, two of the best edible plants to grow are lettuce and spinach. Both are easy to grow and can be harvested all season long. There are many different varieties to choose from but some of our favorites are Bibb and Red Sails lettuce.

Tomatoes – Tomatoes are one of the most popular edibles to grow every spring. Start them by seed or by plant. We recommend that you wait until after April 10 to plant, since the soil needs time to warm-up so the root system can grow. You can get started a little earlier if you are growing in raised beds or containers above ground.

Herbs – Nothing is better than to cook with fresh herbs from the garden. Classics like parsley, oregano, thyme, basil, dill, cilantro, and rosemary are some of our favorites. These plants love to be cut and used, so be sure to harvest often.

Blueberries – One of the healthiest and most rewarding fruits to grow, blueberries are not only a highly productive plant for fruit, but they also make a very attractive shrub. Newer varieties like Sunshine Blue hold their leaves virtually all year and change from an amazing bluish color in spring and summer to a mix of reds and maroons in the fall and winter. The best part is they are self-pollinating, so you can grow them by themselves or in containers around your home or apartment. Larger varieties get about 8-ft x 8-ft, and produce buckets full of berries. These varieties do need a cross pollinator, so be sure to get two different varieties and give them some space to grow.

Reduce Anxiety the Green Way

Reduce Anxiety the Green Way

Social distancing, quarantine, isolation- all things that we as humans are not wired to do and that can have psychological effects that are difficult for most of us to deal with. We all experience anxiety at one time or another and when worry and fear take over, they can become disruptive and even debilitating. According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is linked not only to worry and unease, but also to physical effects, such as fatigue, restlessness, and muscle tension.

For many, gardening provides us with a way to reset. The sensory experience it provides brings us into the present, and the nurturing of plants promotes relaxation. Since the late 1700’s, nature and gardening have long been applauded for their calming and soothing benefits. Many studies promote the benefits of gardening and green space on mental health. In the March 2017 issue of Preventative Medicine Reports, researchers in Japan and the United Kingdom shared their review of 22 case studies (many of them from the US) on gardening and health. The data reinforced the positive impact of gardening on symptoms of anxiety and stress. Since stress can worsen the symptoms of anxiety, finding ways to alleviate or manage stress can be important to minimizing and managing the effects of anxiety.

With the recent push by the CDC to practice social distancing, it is more important than ever that we find ways to keep busy and engaged in activities to help reduce worry and anxiety. Now is the perfect time to take advantage of this time and get your hands dirty while performing some basic housekeeping gardening tasks:

  • Remove the last of the fallen leaves and other plant debris. Excessive leaf debris harbors disease and insects and can also prevent good water saturation to the root zone.
  • Clean out the insides and atop the root crowns of shrubs and perennials.
  • Cut back grasses, liriope and roses if you did not do so in the fall.
  • Remove any dead, damaged or crossing branches from various trees and shrubs and deadhead perennials.
  • Clear flower beds.
  • Rake leaves and mulch away from garden beds to allow the foliage of spring-flowering bulbs and perennials to poke through.
  • Check irrigation. Look for broken heads or inefficient spray patterns that can waste water. Also, adjust your timer so you aren’t watering your yard during the rainy season.
  • Dig and divide perennials.
  • Perennials such as hosta, chrysanthemum, and daylily can be divided as soon as they break dormancy. Use a sharp spade to dig and lift the clumps and break them into smaller sections with a large garden knife. Replant the divisions as soon as possible. Tip: Some perennials prefer being divided in the late summer instead of early spring. These include peony, lily, oriental poppy, and bearded iris.
  • Prune houseplants that might have grown leggy over the winter. Pruning will also encourage new, and a more compact growth habit.
  • Take a walk around the yard and pick up fallen limbs and debris.
  • Check your lawn mower and get blades sharpened to avoid the spring rush.
  • Check for insects and disease.
  • Deadhead perennials by using your thumb and forefinger to pinch off spent blooms.
  • Cut back perennials with brown foliage close to the ground.
  • Last but not least, sit back, take a deep breath and just relax in your green space.

Additional information on the gardening and its effect on anxiety and stress can be found here How to Use Gardening for Stress Release, and here Garden for Health.

apartment jungle houseplants
houseplant care essentials
assorted houseplants
macrame hanging basket with fern

7 Must Know Tips for Plant Parents: Houseplant Basics

Houseplants are growing in popularity and a new generation of plant parents are visiting our greenhouses everyday. With that, we wanted to give everyone a few tips to be successful.

GETTING TO KNOW YOUR PLANT - Some plants require very little attention, while others need a bit more TLC. Certain plants such as tropical house plants need regular misting to boost humidity, others are sensitive to salts and chemicals in tap water. Reading care cards, doing research and asking our plant experts will all help to get to know your plants better and become a better plant parent.

H2-KNOW – Always pay close attention to watering instructions for your plants because each plant has its own watering needs. Some plants such as succulents prefer dryer soil and less frequent waterings, tropical plants need to be kept consistently moist, and many others prefer to dry out before another watering. Typically, even watering underneath foliage and directly to the soil is best, but If it feels like the soil is extremely or completely dried out, your plant may benefit from the bottom or soak-watering method. Be mindful that too much water, or ill-draining pots can lead to root rot, so always make sure to dump out any excess water.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT SPOT – Know how much light is right. Some plants are adaptive and thrive in a myriad of light environments, while other are more temperamental and thrive best in high direct light. Understanding which windows in your home will give the best light for your plants’ needs is a key component of being a great plant parent.

FEED ME PLEASE - Simply put, fertilizers are like vitamins for plants. When used properly, an all-purpose fertilizer can treat and help prevent plant “malnutrition” while promoting rapid growth and blooming. McDonald Green Leaf is an all-purpose, slow release fertilizer formulated with quality ingredients to ensure high performance and reliability. If using a liquid fertilizer, never apply directly to dry soil. It’s important that the soil is evenly moist before adding any fertilizing liquid. Dilute fertilizing liquid with water to half strength, or as directed on the bottle. Over-fertilizing can lead to shock. Carefully and evenly pour the fertilizing liquid over the top of the soil, until water begins to drip from the drainage hole.

THE MORE THE MERRIER - Houseplants love to be grouped together. Placing plants together will create a microclimate, making it easier for the plant to retain moisture and humidity. Plants have been proven to help you de-stress and connect you to nature. Adding multiple plants to your space will create an ultra-calming indoor jungle that you’ll love to spend time in. Caring for your plants can calm your nerves, too. Seeing your plant grow and flourish is incredibly rewarding, and we can guarantee that once you’ve mastered the care of one plant, you’ll want to challenge yourself with more.

KNOW WHEN TO ACCESSORIZE & REPOT - To promote continued growth and root health, it’s important to know when to repot your plants. The average healthy houseplant will outgrow its container and need to be repotted at least once in its lifetime. Check for roots creeping up along the top of the soil, or seeing roots growing through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. This is a sign that your plant is root-bound and needs more space. Another indication when it is time to re-pot if when watering, the water rushes through the pot and out the drainage hole. This shows the roots are taking up too much room in the current pot and there is not enough soil to root ratio. Choose a container that is 4 – 6 inches larger than the existing pot. If any larger the soil to root ratio may be too large and can lead to oversaturated soil and root rot.

CLEAN & PEST FREE - Keep an eye out for pests. They usually will attack the new growth and also hide on the underside of the leaves and along the stem. They are not harmful to humans and are easily able to control. If you do discover pests grab yourself an organic insect spray. Lay out some plastic under the pot and start spraying at the bottom of the plant. Spray the foliage on the underside and then on top, working your way up. Your treatments may take several applications 7 – 10 days apart. The sooner you discover those pests, the easier it is to get under control, so check your plants often. Keep your leaves free of dust and grime this will keep your plants healthier – plus they’ll look better. Take a half of a lemon and squeeze it into a quart of water using a soft cloth. Wet it with the lemon mix and wipe gently. Support the foliage using your other hand so you won’t bend or break the leaf. Unless you live in a dust bowl, you’ll probably only have to do this once every six months or so.

2020 Garden Market Season
Offering Annuals, Perennials, Tree & Shrubs, Pottery and Garden Decor
Offering Convenience in Your Own Backyard
Markets from Williamsburg to Virginia Beach

McDonald Garden Markets – Our 10th Season & Still Growing Strong

In spring 2009, McDonald unveiled the first Garden Market in Poquoson, Virginia. Now, Markets have expanded throughout the Southside, the Peninsula and up into Williamsburg. Entering our 10th Garden Market season, we're excited to reveal our locations for 2020. This year we're offering ten convenient locations to serve garden enthusiasts on both the Peninsula and Southside. Click here to find a Market location near you.

Gardening in Hampton Roads reaches its peak during April, May and June. Our goal is to offer convenience, quality products and the McDonald shopping experience to communities throughout the spring season when gardening is top of mind. Markets open mid-March through mid-July, and offer annuals, perennials, edibles, trees and shrubs, garden solutions and outdoor accessories. Garden Markets are just another way McDonald can provide inspirational ideas to help you create and awe-inspiring space indoors and out.

McDonald Garden Center remains a family business with a loving and strong link to helping make Hampton Roads, Virginia one of the prettiest gardening spots in America. This spring and summer season, be sure and visit a Market near you.

Treasure Island
The Brother's Grimm
Exibits overflowing with fresh flowers, plants, herbs, bulbs, seeds, gardening books, garden equipments & more.

Kicks-Off Spring with the 27th Annual Outdoor Show

Spring in March arrives annually at the McDonald Garden Center Outdoor Show. As you can imagine, putting together a McDonald-worthy spring Show is a long and laborious process, but it's a challenge that our staff looks forward to each and every year. This year’s theme is “Dig into a Good Book” and igoes hand-in-hand with National Reading Month and the wonderful world of books. Attendees can stroll through the walkable vignettes featuring interpretations of some of our favorite time-honored tales – Treasure Island, The Brother’s Grimm, The Secret Garden and many more.

This Show offers a little bit of everything from the latest in spring gardening trends, home improvement, design, landscaping, food, and more. Back again this year is the Outdoor Show Speaker Series for 2020. Seminars are geared towards both the novice or the well-seasoned gardener and features presenters that will offer expert advice on everything from bees and camellias to orchids and pruning to solutions for moles and voles just to mention a few. For a complete listing of seminars taking place throughout the weekend click here.

“This time of year, everyone can use a little preview of spring. Outdoor 2020 will provide a real showcase for creating a colorful and much welcomed spring,” says McDonald Garden Center President, Mark Anderson. With more than 70 vendors, you’re sure to find plenty of inspiring ideas and creative options for flowering plants, trees, shrubs, edibles and outdoor furniture and accessories.

The 27th Annual Outdoor Show is free and open-to-the-public. The event will be held rain or shine under heated tents from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday through Sunday, March 6, 7 and 8, at McDonald Garden Center’s Independence Virginia Beach location at 1144 Independence Boulevard. Admission is FREE.

To learn more about the 27th Annual Outdoor Show click here.